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How can we tackle terrorism on a community level?


After the massacre of Christchurch in New Zealand, carried out by a "extreme right supremacist" man that ended the life of 50 people in a mosque, one wonders, how many more innocent people have to die in order to end terrorism in the world?, Can we do something to protect our country from terrorism?; is it possible to prevent this type of attacks in our community?...

Simple answers are diffuse and the truth seems to be far from encouraging. In my attempt to understand terrorism I review a few articles and the first thing that calls my attention is that there are many types of terrorism divided mainly in internal ( domestic) and external (international) terrorism. Each one has their own motives and causes, such as, political, religious, state, ethnic and socio economics conditions. So there are many different types of terrorism and it would be difficult, as a community, to tackle all of them, because they are simply out of our control.

It is important to note that terrorism is not an Ideology but a tactic, an strategy to achieve an specific end. This strategy is usually used in asymmetric power struggles, when a weaker person or group is fighting against a powerful nation or to infringe fear to a group of people, like in this case. However a terrorist group or a terrorist itself represent a cause and they may be seen as "freedom fighter" for another group. Thus, in their view they are "heroes" representing a larger group of victims, that feels attacked by a bigger victimiser, and although some terrorists wish to destroy the status quo, others may seek to protect existing systems and act from the strength they possess as agents of government.

According to the American Psychological association the very roots of terrorism are lack of opportunities, lack of education, unemployment, injustice and social inequality. People who are in social risk are more likely to become terrorists, because they want to take revenge for all they have suffered, that is their purpose.

People who become terrorist usually:

  • Feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised.

  • Believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change.

  • Identify with perceived victims of the social injustice they are fighting.

  • Feel the need to take action rather than just talking about the problem.

  • Believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral.

  • Have friends or family sympathetic to the cause.

  • Believe that joining a movement offers social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie and a heightened sense of identity.

Realistically at a global level it would be very difficult to influence or persuade another culture, subculture or a group of individuals to stop carrying out terrorist attacks because, even though we may know or suspect the cause or who they are, we would have many others obstacles to get our message across, such as cultural, legal, technological, or geopolitical barriers, and this would require a huge effort at a global level, which is currently being carried out by the UN and NGOs around the world.

At a national level it is important to have strong gun control policies and national defence strategies in place to protect our country and communities from terrorism, but the experience have shown us that this is not enough and that a "war on terror" sometimes just ignite more terror. Therefore the main influence has to come from inside as a grass root movement, so the question is, how can we create and develop a culture of peace and understanding, a culture of inclusion and education and a place where love and happiness is not just an ideal, but a way of life?

The fact is every time something like this happen, the world show us the worst and the best side of humanity. In this case on the one side we have a person with mental or emotional traumas willing to kill others to demonstrate their views and on the other side we have a large community getting together united to condemn and send a message of love to the victims. And even though this demonstrations reflect a moment of sadness and pain, they also reflect a community united in love, hope and solidarity, and that is exactly what I think we need to do on a more regular basis, without having to wait for a tragedy to happen in order to celebrate these values. We need to focus in prevention from our own educational system to nourish a culture of love, inclusion and hope and we need to support this, with strong policies capable to diminish the risk of hate and alienation in our youth. We need to prevent inside attacks with more education, opportunities and integration programs for new immigrants and refugees, as well as promoting understanding and integration as a whole. We need to create a system where everyone feels a sense of community, belonging and acceptance. I think it is important to join as a brotherhood not just to react against terrorism, but as a way to prevent these tragedies. We need to evolve as a society to a more conscious level of humanity, where love, understanding, and happiness are the main purpose of life, not money, not power, not guns. We need to understand, as a society, that the real revolution, is the evolution of consciousness...

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